• Published 27th Nov 2013
  • 9,477 Views, 234 Comments

Reversal of Fortune - Sandcroft

Luck can only take you so far, and for The Courier it won't last much longer.

  • ...

Chapter 1: New World "Blues"

Princess Celestia and Princess Luna quickly walked through the hallways of the Canterlot Castle. As they passed by maids and guards, heads turned and whispers followed. Nopony could quite remember the last time the princesses were so agitated by something.

"We have planned for this, Tia. We know what must be done," Luna said to her elder sister. It was true, the two had made a plan for such an occurrence many years ago, just after the defeat of Discord. It's sole purpose was to keep Equestria neutral in the event that a foreign god or goddess tried to bring Equis, their planet, into conflict with other beings. Establishing diplomatic ties with whatever just appeared in the mountains was crucial.

"I know Luna," Celestia responded, keeping her head forward and eyes narrowed. They were lucky enough that no other divine beings had tried to suck the two of them into a greater conflict. She and her sister were only minor deities, confined to their planet and not possessing much power beyond that. Even so, their strength was still far greater than the lesser gods and goddesses with no planet to rule over.

They concluded their walk at the war room, at the top of the tallest tower in the castle. Anti-teleport wards, along with magical dampening fields to discourage fights among generals, were in place across the entire floor, unfortunately extending the time it takes for them to reach it. The relatively small set of doors opened as Celestia pushed them with a golden shoe-clad hoof.

The war room had the explicit purpose of acting as a central hub for Celestia and Luna to direct their forces across Equestria and beyond. A large map/table sat in the center of the room, the walls were lined with gray-colored magical monitoring equipment, and another door led out to a balcony that circled the outside of the tower. Unfortunately, due to a lack of warfare in the last few centuries, a thick blanket of dust covered the magical machines and the map. It didn't really matter all that much, though, given the fact that all of it was extremely out of date. A small amount of light was let in from the filthy windows around the room.

"I'll summon the generals," Celestia said, lighting her horn up. She quickly fired up the underused one-way telepathic link that each general, unicorn or not, was given on the date of their promotion. A few moments later the three generals that served the Equestrian crown knew where to go.

Luna was attempting to start one of the monitoring systems. Her hoof clicked a button, but nothing happened. She pressed it a few more times, hoping to get a reaction, but still nothing happened. Her eyebrows knit in frustration. She leaned forward and slammed on the button rapidly, still eliciting nothing from the machine. She growled in anger, then kicked the thing futilely.

"Did you try turning it off and on?" Celestia jested from beside the map table. She had been watching her sister's struggle the entire time, suppressing light giggles.

"Laugh all you want, Tia, we need these infernal devices running as soon as possible." She sighed, turning her head to look at a dark monitor set in the machine. "Should I call the repair staff?"

"I don't think that's necessary. These 'infernal devices' are probably useless. They haven't been used for years now. Look at the map, even. It's out of date as well." Celestia blew the dust off of the old map/table, sending a brown wave cascading through the air. She frowned at the inadequacy of the map, after being able to view it completely. Manehattan, Vanhoover, Fillydelphia, Baltimare, and Los Pegasas were all missing; and Ghastly Gorge wasn't in existence yet. "The Crystal Empire is even there- oh, wait, that's actually correct now."

She turned and walked over to the windows. She swept a hoof across the brown surface and smeared off the dust, allowing vision outward. Conveniently enough, the window pointed out towards Ponyville and half of the Foal Mountains, where the purple flash originated.

Then, a thought struck her. "What do I tell Twilight?" she asked both to herself and Luna.

Luna looked up from the map and raised an eyebrow. "Simple. Tell her nothing. It's bad enough that we have to share this information with the generals, but-"

"Share what information with the generals?" She was cut off by a voice coming from the doorway.

The princesses turned and watched as three old ponies filed into the room. Bombshell, First Class, and Overwatch, earth pony, unicorn, and pegasus, respectively. Bombshell was the one who had spoken. He had a dark green coat, faded slightly from age, but his mane was still a dark brown, cut to Equestrian Army regulation. His cutie mark was a broken bombshell casing, the inside of it partially revealed by the two halves.

"I think we need to know what's going on, Princesses. This appears to be serious, if what I felt earlier is any indication," said First Class, the unicorn. He was a light tan, the same color as the sand that covered the beaches by Los Pegasus. His mane was slicked back and colored a steely gray. His cutie mark was a silver medallion held up by a blue and gold ribbon. He was holding the Arcane Ops beret that usually adorned his head.

"I agree, this is a matter of national security!" exclaimed Overwatch, the pegasus. His coat matched the afternoon sky perfectly, right up to his bald head. His cutie mark was a lightning bolt, flanked on either side by wings. It matched the pin for the Air Squadron that he wore on his tan combat jacket.

"Generals, thank you for coming on such short notice," said Celestia. Her face didn't show it, but she secretly disliked the stallions. Age had eroded their sharpness somewhat, and they could sometimes be as stubborn as the nobility. Overwatch grated on her nerves especially, always claiming matters of little importance to be threats to "national security."

"We wouldn't miss it, Princess. It's been a while since we have been summoned to war council," said Bombshell.

"...I don't recall ever calling a war council in your lifetime, General," said Celestia, irritation poking in the back of her mind.

The earth pony blinked. "Oh. Well then, carry on, I suppose."

"Yes, what is it you wanted to tell us?" asked First Class.

Of the three graying stallions, First Class was Celestia's favorite. He did a good job of staying focused, despite being old, and was extremely sensitive to problems involving magic. It also helped that he attempted to court her in his earlier years. It never developed into anything, but Celestia could still see the sparks in his eyes that drew her in so long ago.

She smiled, prepared to give a short explanation, but Luna cut in. "Purple flash, Foal Mountains, probably some sort of foreign god." She was studying the map intently, as if it could shed some light on the situation.

The stallions all looked at each other in slight confusion. Celestia shot her sister an annoyed look, then cleared her throat. "What Princess Luna means to say is that we believe that a divine being has just landed in Equestria, as First Class may have felt." She chose to ignore the shocked expressions of the generals and continued. "We do not have much in the way of information now, other than the fact that it is absolutely necessary that our planet remains neutral in any and all affairs that are otherworldly." She took a deep breath. "It is, for this reason, that I will go and meet with our 'visitor' and attempt to make peace.

"Generals." As soon as the words left her mouth the three snapped to attention, "I am assigning each of you to the three cities closest to the Foal Mountains. I do not want that being making contact with a civilian. Bombshell, you're assigned to Manehattan." The stallion snapped a salute and stepped forward. "If you are bringing any weapons, which I assume you are, carry only concealed ones." Her gaze broadened. "The same goes for you two as well. We need to exercise caution in this affair."

"Of course, Princess," the three responded simultaneously. Oftentimes they could be daft, but other times they were right on the ball.

"First Class, you're going to Ponyville, I will have the components necessary for a long-range teleport gathered and sent to your room immediately." She nodded, and the aged colt gave a sly grin in response. Celestia had to suppress a slight giggle. It seemed that he still had a little charm left in his old body.

"And Overwatch." She let out a breath before continuing. "You'll be stationed in Fillydelphia." Hopefully as far from the action as possible.

He snapped a hoof to his forehead in a salute, grinning broadly. "I won't let you down, Princess!" he said before turning tail and scrambling out of the room. Well, scrambling as fast as an elderly stallion could.

Luna, in the meantime, was trying to force open the door to the balcony. Celestia picked up on the sounds and turned around. "Luna, what are you doing?" she asked.

The mare paused in her administrations for a moment and turned her head to look at Celestia. "I think the better question to ask at this point is what are you doing? We need to leave immediately." she said before kicking the door once.

Celestia calmly walked over to the door and put her hoof on it, stopping Luna from trying to open it again. "We will not be leaving. I, on the other hoof, will be." Luna's mouth opened but Celestia cut her off. "Somepony needs to be here to manage things while I'm negotiating. You know how the courts are supposed to run." Then, in a darker tone, "Besides, if things do not go well, Equestria will require at least one princess to rule."

Luna's mouth opened again to object, but closed after a moment's thought. She knew that her sister had her beat, and she lowered her head. Celestia moved in to wrap her wings around her little sister. "I realize that we are about to enter some trying times, but we must stay strong and have confidence," Celestia said sympathetically while lifting up Luna's chin with a delicate feather. "Besides, somepony has to keep the nobles in check," she added on a side note with a small smile.

Luna giggled slightly. "Alright Tia, I'll stay here and look after the foals. But I expect you to return quickly, understand?"

"I understand perfectly." Celestia broke their hug and reached out a hoof to open the door. She grasped the handle and pushed, but nothing happened. She then put more of her weight on the wood and pushed harder. The door budged, but didn't yield. She sighed and glared at the door for a moment, then she turned and gave it a solid buck.

The stubborn door finally gave way and flew open, unhinging on the top. It hung crookedly while Celestia's cheeks flushed with embarrassment. She stepped outside into the sunlight and spread her wings. Before taking off, she gave Luna a quick glance and said, "Send the castle's interior decorator and the engineers up here and tell them to update the room. We may need it soon." She flapped her wings once and jumped over the railing, sailing off into the midday sky.

When I get home, I'm outlawing snow. Ryan was trying to work his way down the mountainside, forging a path towards his destination, Ponyville. So far he hadn't encountered anything dangerous, besides a few birds that seemed fascinated with his hair. He winced at the memory. It was only worse because his hat had been lost in the transition between places. Strangely enough though, his sunglasses had remained on his face.

He shivered as a chilly breeze cut straight through his Courier uniform. Well, if I freeze to death I'll look damn good while doing it. The thought caused a smile to light up his features. He waded through a large snowdrift, then stopped for a moment.

He looked up and let his eyes wander across the area he landed in. He had halted his progress periodically since his landing on the mountain, but he never tired of the view. The mere thought that this place was untouched by radiation stunned him. He was entranced by the sheer beauty of the green hills and abundant forestry that dominated the plains. He was too close to the ground to see "Ponyville," mostly because it was hidden by a thick forest.

He took a few steps and jumped off the snow-covered rocks onto the non-snow-covered rocks slightly below him. He stumbled slightly, but he regained it quickly.

"Well, that wasn't too bad," he said while brushing the snow off his clothes and arms with a shiver. He quickly made his way down the slight slope that made up the base of the mountain. "So far, celebrating nuclear winter is not on my bucket list."

He walked off into the treeline humming to the tune of Jingle, Jangle, Jingle.

But he didn't notice the snow-white winged creature fly far above his head, looking for him specifically.

It's like being back at Vault 22. He shivered again, but not from the cold. Actually, compared to the mountain, it was much warmer. It seemed as if he was in a completely new area, separate from the chilly atmosphere he just left.

He stepped over a bush and then under a branch. His eyes constantly scanned his surroundings, and his eyes flicked down to his Pip-Boy periodically, checking the device's compass and sensors to make sure he was on the right path and that nothing was obstructing it. It would be great if, for once, he didn't have to shoot something on his way to a town.

With that thought in mind, he drew Lucky and checked to see if it was still loaded. It was, no different from the other twenty times he had checked it over the hour. He sighed, recognizing his nervous habit of inspecting the gun. I wish some other guns fell through. Or I wish there were some Raiders I could take guns from. I would have loved a nice shotgun for reassurance here.

While it is true that Lucky is by far his favorite weapon, there was some appeal to a shotgun that he couldn't deny. Maybe it was the satisfaction that comes with absolutely obliterating an enemy by perforating them with buckshot. It could also be the fact that he used them in such close quarters that aiming was unnecessary. He shrugged mentally.

Ryan didn't truly fit in with a shooter archetype like most of the Mojave's inhabitants. When taking a walk there, he could always spot how people usually favored combat. Many chose some form of rifle that would work at medium to long range. A whole ton of people just stuck with a typical close-ranged 9mm pistol. A few would carry around shotguns or some form of explosive besides dynamite, and hardly any would use a sniper or similar scoped weapon. The most common sort of weapon he saw by far, though, was melee. Anywhere from rolling pins to Super Sledges, he always ran into somebody trying to bash his head in.

Ryan himself was a little bit all-over-the-place. Lucky was always with him for the close to medium range fights, including ruined buildings. But then he would usually carry around a shotgun or two, for the CQC that tight hallways provided. Then he would typically carry a medium to long range rifle, like a Marksman Carbine or the Anti-Materiel Rifle. That would've been nice to have too.

He looked back down at his Pip-Boy to check the sensors. Still nothing. More walking it is, then.

Hours passed. He just trudged along the entire time. It was something he was used to, for the most part. A lot of his time in the Mojave was spent wandering around and looking for something to do. He had crossed through a stream an hour or two before. It was freezing cold and rad-free, unlike the few water sources the Mojave had to offer. He'd never forget the time he had to dive to the bottom of Lake Mead to float up a Pre-War bomber. He was lucky that the Lake-Lurks ignored him.

A little while ago he had passed across some train tracks, but he didn't follow them. He had gone so far towards his waypoint, he wasn't going to give up and follow some tracks to nowhere.

Soon after that were some hill-mountains. He didn't really know another way to describe them, because they were taller than hills, but smaller than mountains. Instead of going all the way over, he just found a lower gap between some peaks to slip through with no trouble.

Then he had found himself back in another forest, on the verge of cursing his luck. He was sick of plants, couldn't the world just understand that? I really wish I brought a machete with me, that would've worked wonders through here.

But, no. Instead he was shoving his way through annoying greenery in a dimly-lit foreboding forest that was trying its hardest to freak him out. Of course, by that time it was past 7:00, and the sun had mostly set. Not that it mattered, because the thick foliage would have blocked it out anyway. When I get back home, I'm nuking Vault 22. I don't want to see another living plant for the next 10 years.

He checked his Pip-Boy yet again. It was routine at that point, his eyes hardly seeing the screen as they glazed over it. He faintly registered a red glow from the screen and then he lowered his arm again, ready to keep on walking-

Wait. He checked again to make sure he wasn't mistaken. The compass' sensor had marked a hostile a little ways in front of him. He crouched down quickly, drawing Lucky automatically. He forced himself to not check his bullet-count, because he already knew he was fully loaded, then crept forward relatively silently. The trees seemed to give way to a clearing of some sort.

He brushed aside a stray branch blocking his view and took a look. It turned out that the forest had stopped altogether. A few feet in front of him lay a large body of water with a few isolated rocks sticking out near the shores. Across that body of water he could see some lightly trimmed trees and the tops of some structures. All that was visible were the tips of the roofs, but it was enough to see that they were thatched like the houses from the Grognak the Barbarian comic books.

His eyes scanned the somewhat-dark surroundings, the moon gave off so much light that it was almost as bright as day. He checked the Pip-Boy's sensors again to make sure there was still a threat. The little red tick still remained, set dead ahead of him. He didn't see whatever it was, but he couldn't always see Nightkin either. He figured it would be better for his health if he erred on the cautious side of things.

He stepped out of the forest tentatively, moving to the left slightly to make sure of the exact location of the threat. It appeared to be in the water, just off-shore. He raised Lucky, still careful not to make a sound. He aimed it toward the water and tried to peer into its depths. His eyes couldn't see past its calm, reflective surface, despite his best efforts.

Keeping Lucky up, he raised his Pip-Boy and clicked a small red button on the side. He felt electricity surge through his body as his nervous system was willingly hijacked. His vision gained its own personal display, showing how much ammo he had loaded in his gun, what gun he was using, and various other bits of semi-useful information. A small logo for V.A.T.S. sat in the upper-left corner of the screen.

A figure was outlined in white, just below the surface. It had a body shape similar to that of a gecko, if it even walked on all fours. Several areas were marked off as being Head, Body, and Legs. Each area had a small bar next to it, a calculation of the probability of him hitting that area with a shot. Currently, the head was at 89%, the body was at 95%, the two legs closest to him were at 34% each, while the other two legs seemed to be covered up by the body and had 0% each.

With a mental shrug, he allowed the technology to take over his body and fire with a simple thought, aiming directly at the head. The shot rang out and echoed across the landscape, the only sound in the otherwise silent night. The bullet flashed into the water, causing a small shower to spring forth and splash onto his shoes. Just after its entry, though, the water was disturbed further by something thrashing below the surface. Ryan smiled, assuming his bullet had met its target. He shook off the tingly feel of lingering electricity shooting up and down his nerves, a residual effect of V.A.T.S.

He checked his Pip-Boy again, returning it to the main screen and compass. The red marker was gone, but in its place were tons of white ones, spread out before him. He was sure now that the town across the lake was inhabited; and he had never seen such a large amount of people in one place before.

With a physical shrug, he holstered Lucky and stood up, looking around for a way across the water.

Princess Celestia flew onto the balcony of the war room and sent a telepathic message to her sister without a moment's delay. She was breathing hard, a result of covering hundreds of miles by wing throughout the day. She knew Luna would be in the middle of her night court, so she didn't expect her right away-

He thoughts were interrupted by the mare of the night entering the room. The creaky old door slammed open, and in rushed Luna, an expectant grin on her face. As she looked around an saw that Celestia was alone, her grin vanished. A few emotions cycled through her face quickly as she saw Celestia's worn-out expression.

"Tia, what has happened? Did you find our visitor?" she asked, concerned.

"No," Celestia panted out, "I didn't."

Author's Note:

This is continuing.

As if you needed my confirmation at this point, considering how this is a new chapter, and the favorites are now over 400. That's a lot. Thanks for reading!

And in case anyone is confused about it, Ryan's Pip-Boy color is white, not amber.

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